Belfast Telegraph

Is it really in the public interest to tell us all about stars' sex lives?

By Jane Graham

I know that many of my journalist colleagues will slate me for saying this but I fully support the ruling that has stopped newspapers revealing the identity of the married male celebrity who had an affair with his colleague.

And I think Lord Justice Ward showed rare and welcome compassion when he said the main reason for protecting the star's identity was to protect his children from humiliation and bullying.

I know all the arguments against what one furious newspaper has dubbed a 'draconian' decision, and I reject them all. The Press bleat on about the public interest and freedom of speech but all of that talk is deceitful, hypocritical bunkum.

There's only one thing that motivates tabloids that trade on exposing scandalous sexual secrets of the rich and famous, and that's selling more tabloids. (Though taking down powerful figures does give ego-driven writers a huge buzz, as anyone who's ever shared a drink with a hack who's just done so will know).

The idea that the public 'deserve' to know who a celebrity is sleeping with is utter nonsense as is the popular notion that if you make a living in the public eye you should tolerate abuse and intrusion as a matter of course. When did we sink so low that we consider mental and physical violence an acceptable side-effect of any lifestyle? Why are we so determined that wealth, talent and/or a high profile must rip from you your basic human rights and dignity - are we so embittered by other people's success that we can only feel better about it if we know they're suffering horribly for it on a regular basis?

I applauded Sienna Miller when she won a case against the pap who stole nude snaps of her in 2008, and wish more celebs had her tenacity.

It's an insidious and nasty culture which feeds daily on the details of other people's sex lives, which we're always informed are 'sordid', 'seedy' and all those other emotive, judgmental adjectives the tabs routinely employ, alongside vile misogynistic nouns like 'whore' and 'slapper'. Widespread curiosity is not grounds for exposure. It's far more important to me to live in a country where some value is still placed on quality of life for everyone, even rich people I don't like, even famous people I'm jealous of, and especially for their kids.

There are numerous problems with the injunction/gagging order law as it stands. It's certainly wrong that super-injunctions are only available to the super-rich - the right to privacy should be universal and automatic unless there is genuine public interest at stake (and that is almost NEVER when only sex is involved, unless it's with an international spy stealing political documents while their prey is having a post-coital doze.)

The judge who allowed Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas' name to be published while protecting the footballer she had an affair with this week maybe was blind-sided but I question Ms Thomas' keenness now to fight the gagging order so she can name her ex, ruin his marriage, devastate his wife and mess up the next few years of his children's lives.

Yes, the man in question should have thought of that before he slept with her. But why should his family suffer because he did a stupid thing? Isn't that just making sure they get bludgeoned twice? Let's show a bit more consideration than he did and grab a chance to protect the innocent.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph